A major bug has been discovered affecting group FaceTime on Apple iOS and macOS, following which Apple has decided to disable the app temporarily. This is a server-side change that has been in effect while Apple is trying to come up with a permanent solution for the problem which is expected to be delivered “later this week.”
The bug that has been discovered is allowing the caller access to audio from the recipient’s side without the recipient having received the call. Apple Group FaceTime video call can be started by choosing a number from a list of contacts, swiping up “Add Person,” and adding the caller’s own number to it. Once the call is started, however, the caller can listen to audio from the recipient’s side, even if the call has not been placed, without the recipient being aware of it.
The report of the bug came on an unfortunate time for Apple, making headlines as it did on Data Privacy Day. This bug is also a potentially threatening breach of user privacy and flies in the face of Apple’s pro-privacy stance. Addressing the issue, Apple has said to Axios, “We’re aware of this issue, and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week.”
We must keep fighting for the kind of world we want to live in. On this #DataPrivacyDay let us all insist on action and reform for vital privacy protections. The dangers are real and the consequences are too important.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) January 28, 2019
While the app has been reportedly disabled, some users can still reproduce the bug’s effects which may be because the change is taking time to be propagated to all servers. Be that as it may, Apple is doing as much as it can to deal with the problem.
As of now, Apple’s system update page reads, “Group FaceTime is temporarily unavailable.”